Bush Pushes Legislation on Class-Action Lawsuits; Bipartisan Help Sought to Reform System
Byline: Joseph Curl, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Bush yesterday called top lawmakers to the White House and urged them to move quickly on legislation to curb class-action lawsuits as part of a three-pronged effort to reduce litigation that costs Americans billions of dollars each year.
"Class-action lawsuits have become a problem in the United States. The judicial system is not fair. It is unbalanced, it is tilted," Mr. Bush said after meeting with a dozen Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate.
"And members around this table understand that, and members around this table are willing to set aside their political party to do what is right for worker and business owner alike."
Mr. Bush said he was optimistic that the Republican-controlled Congress will pass the legislation promptly.
"It is very possible that a good piece of legislation can move quickly this year out of both the Senate and the House, get it to conference quickly and get it to my desk quickly, to show the American people that both parties are willing to work together to solve problems," he said. "We have a problem with class-action lawsuits. It is a problem that we all recognize, and it's a problem we intend to fix."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee said class-action legislation will be the first introduced in the Senate this session. The bill has bipartisan support, although a Republican measure died in the Senate last year. That bill would have moved more class-action lawsuits - in which one person or a small group represents the interests of an entire class of people in court - out of state courts and into federal courts, where awards typically are smaller.
"There's a very good chance ... of getting a class-action reform bill done," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, after the meeting. …